atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5821: Base 60 is a bit impractical.

Trignometry invented in Babylon, at least a thousand years before Hipparchus. A cuneiform tablet is a trig table, using base 60 instead of decimals.

When I hit 7th grade, the very first thing we did in math class was to play around with different number bases.

Our number system is decimal, base 10. Each place in a number can be one of ten digits--0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9--and whenever the number gets bigger, you add more places. Pretty simple.

Then computers came along, and computers basically use two numbers, 0 and 1, which is binary or base 2. This leads us to using two other number systems, octal (base 8) and hexadecimal (base 16). Octal functions with a subset of the decimal digits (0 through 7) but hexadecimal adds six digits, which we represent with letters. So hex runs 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F. F in hex equals 15 in decimal; F and 15 are the same number but expressed differently depending on how you're counting. F (hex) equals 15 (decimal) equals 1111 (binary) equals 17 (octal).

The Babylonian trignometric table requires base 60, which means a single place must encompass 60 values starting at 0. That's cumbersome, to say the least; it's easy to see why Babylonian trig didn't catch on the way Greek trig did. Given time, Babylon would have fixed what was wrong with their mathematics; someone would have figured out "Hey, base 60 is a pain, but we can do exactly the same thing with base 30, base 15, base 12, base 10, base 6, base 5, base 3--pick one!" The babylonians figured in base 60 because there are so many ways to divide 60. It was a magic number to them. Probably they would have settled, eventually, on base 12; and if they had continued unabated, our numeric system would be base 12 rather than base 10.

Well, they weren't given time. Trignometry was lost somewhere along the line, until it was rediscovered by the Greeks. Such is history.

* * *

You may not cry wolf in a crowded theater! That's right, now we must impeach Trump and get him the hell out of the Oval Office because this proves that he sure as hell isn't qualified to run a lemonade stand let alone the United Sta--eh?

Oh. Oh, it was Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of Congress. Well, that's okay, then. Never mind.

Everybody knows that when a Republican does anything stupid, no matter how innocuous, it's irrefutable proof that he's too stupid to tie his own shoes, and should be confined to an asylum. But when a Democrat does anything stupid, no matter how egregious, it's just a slip up and doesn't mean anything at all. I mean, you try doing that job, genius, and see how well you do!


* * *

Samsung smart TVs get bricked by software update.

It really doesn't seem like that long ago when television sets didn't need software updates. Do you remember those days? I'm not talking about the friggin' 1970s, here; I'm talking about less than a decade ago! The TV hanging on the wall in my former bedroom doesn't require software updates. The TV in our family room doesn't require software updates.

It used to be that a television was a simple display device, and everything it displayed came from an external source--broadcast, VCR, DVD, cable box, whatever. Turning televisions into Internet terminals is the problem; you require a computer of some kind to access the Internet, and computers must be programmed, and since we're a hell of a long way from any kind of mature software development process, software doesn't come out of development without errors. So it must be patched, and sometimes the patches break more than they fix.

The television should be only a display device, and if you want to make it "smart" then the bits that make it "smart" should be entirely separate from it. So that if a software update frotzes the "smart" bits, you can unplug them and still watch stuff on the TV.

I realize what I am saying here. It's not elegant or sleek or stylish or anything. It means people wouldn't have to buy the latest and most expensive TV to get "smart" features.

Then again, I expect a TV to work correctly without needing software updates, because I was raised during the time when TVs were pure hardware.

* * *

"Already tested to double vacuum pressure"? SpaceX has a spacesuit, and it's been tested and it works. I know what Musk is trying to say in that quote, but as stated it's utterly meaningless. There is no pressure in a vacuum (that's kind of what "vacuum" means) and you can't double nothing.

But what you can do is to put the suit in a vacuum chamber and pump out all the air, then fill the suit to 30 PSI (which is two atmospheres) and check it for leaks. What he meant was "Already tested to double pressure in vacuum" which admittedly takes three more characters to say.

"Double pressure" may not actually be 30 PSI, either. Historically, spacecraft have operated at cabin pressures lower than Earth sea level, which is around 15 PSI. The Apollo mission ran on something like 5 PSI, mostly oxygen.

The space shuttle ran an approximately Earth-normal atmosphere, in both composition and pressure, which meant anyone going EVA had to pre-breathe pure oxygen to purge the nitrogen from their blood since space suits still run at that same 5 PSI or so.

I don't expect SpaceX to be any different. The laws of physics are the same for everyone, and as the pressure differential across the suit's skin rises, it gets harder to move in a spacesuit.

If you've ever read Have Space Suit--Will Travel you'll understand some of the problems, because Heinlein actually worked on space suit design, and he understood them quite well. You put a guy in a simple man-shaped balloon and pump it to 15 PSI and he'll have to strain to move his arms and legs, if he can do it at all, because the air pressure tends to force the arms and legs of the suit straight. You need to compensate for the change in air volume at the joints when they bend. I'm not sure NASA suits do that, hence the low operating pressure.

The real answer is to get away from encasing the astronaut in a baloon, and use mechanical pressure to hold him together instead. I call them "squeeze suits" (I'm confident I did not invent the term) and the idea is that the suit is elastic and form-fitting and puts at least half an atmosphere's worth of pressure on the skin. Then you clamp a helmet to the top of it, and the helmet is the only part of the thing that actually contains air.

I talk about them here, and to my surprise the link to the story about the suits is still functional even though it's ten years old.

* * *

Yet Another Race Hate Hoax. And in a series of tweets, that hoax is demolished.

* * *

This is stupid. It's just pure stupidity to generate power with wind and then store it using trains as a battery. We have the ability to tap the densest and most powerful source of energy ever--nuclear power--and we act like it's impossible, and do these stupid inefficient Rube Goldberg schemes instead.

* * *

This is Mandela's true face. The left in America celebrated him as some kind of hero, but in fact he was just a murderous thug.

Just like everyone else the left celebrates.

* * *

Yeah, good luck with that. I give them points for trying, and for holding the leftists to their own standards, but it never works. Because of course the LGBMGBBQWTF flag is a "symbol of freedom" and the Confederate flag is a "symbol of slavery", which is why it's perfectly okay to display that rainbow flag but not okay to hang up a cross or anything. After all, if students are "not comfortable to openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community in a public school where students come from diverse political and religious backgrounds," that's because they're bigots and haters and nazis!, not because there could ever possibly be anything objectionable to promoting the homosexual lifestyle.


* * *

Things sure as hell don't look good for Sears. When people refer to your current operating regime as a "death spiral" you know things are heading for the crapper.

My e-mail has been inundated with "surprise points!" and such from my K-mart rewards card, which I never use because I very seldom go to K-mart. I went there looking for a desk fan for my wife not long ago, and could not find any; they were setting for "back to school" and the summer stock was all but gone. K-mart stores--at least the one near me--seem to be stocked fairly well, even though they're now part of the Sears group. But they're clearly trying to get people in the store.

Oh well. Like people, corporations have life cycles.

* * *

I will not take statins to reduce my cholesterol. There is no benefit to taking them, and there are plenty of liabilities.

The most effective treatment for high cholesterol and heart disease is simply to cut carbohydrates from your diet and get some friggin' exercise.

* * *

It's been a fairly cool summer since mid-July. I have to wonder what that portends for the impending winter? Will it be dry like last year's was, or will we get tons of snow, or what? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain. Before too much longer, I will be taking down the swimming pool.

As I said previously, the use we got out of it was worth the price of admission, even figuring in the maintenance and supplies we needed. We had several very pleasant afternoons and evenings in the thing, and although I would have liked to have used it more than we have, I am not unhappy.

So, soon I'll take it down and pack it away until late next May, when I'll set it up in a different part of the yard (more level!) and get it ready for summer of 2018, and we'll enjoy our little pool as much as we can.

...unless we go and get the 15-foot diameter model. Or the F-foot diameter model, in hexadecimal.

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